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Thread: Looking for Start Up Advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    LumberJack Toys, LLC, Richmond MN
    Posts
    74

    Default Looking for Start Up Advice

    Hey Everyone,

    Puzzle sales are slow and I have a PRT Alpha 4x4 collecting dust, and not sawdust...

    My question is, if you needed to make $800-$1,000 per month, what would you do? There is so much information on the forum I get overloaded just trying to sort it all out. Would you approach local sign shops, start making signs, contact cabinet shops, or ? We are in rural Minnesota and I am looking for something to replace my wife's part-time job. She is a customer service rep. along with cold calling business to business sales. The work environment is less than ideal, and I can't see her working for someone else while the Shopbot sits.

    Thoughts or ideas?
    Miles Thormodson
    Custom Digifab
    "The Home of Stump's Puzzles"
    www.stumps-puzzles.com
    www.customdigifab.com
    www.routertemplate.net

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Garland Tx
    Posts
    2,241

    Default

    Miles

    You've got a lot of lakes close by... are there many cabins on the lakes that need signs? perhaps some local merchants will let you show samples in their windows?

    The Craft shows have been a total bust for me... good luck!

    Steve

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Cocoa, Florida
    Posts
    190

    Default

    I would take a look at my ability and then market it. If you now how to make signs great, cabinets, etc. Then let people know your services are available. Lots of different ways, advertise, cold call, website, etc. Get the proper documentation in line for what you want to do, insurance, licenses etc. So when the customer comes knocking your ready to go. everything you listed is a possible stream of cash. But I have learned you can't be everything to everybody. GOOD LUCK !!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    iBILD Solutions - Southern NJ
    Posts
    7,964

    Default

    You can't come from a place of "That'll make me money"...you have to focus on what you enjoy doing first, then the money will follow. Find something new that you enjoy, make it and take it around an show it off. Listen to what people are looking for in the areas of hobbies and recreation...as that seems to be where the disposable cash is. If your only focus is making money, then this will catch up to you and your days will be sour...like going to a 9-5 that you hate every day. You'll spend most of your time working...pick something fun.

    -B
    High Definition 3D Laser Scanning Services - Advanced ShopBot CNC Training and Consultation - Vectric Custom Video Training IBILD.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    LumberJack Toys, LLC, Richmond MN
    Posts
    74

    Default

    Good advice guys, and here are some thoughts...

    Brady,

    I know what you mean about following the money, I've done that in the past. I have a degree in Automation and have moved the family several times chasing the almighty dollar. Someday I plan on working from home with the 'bot, but not yet. Need to start small, so that's why my wife will be running the 'bot. She likes running the bot, and actually will run anything in the shop except the table saw. That one scares her. Even though I work with machines, robots, and CNC's, I still love playing with the 'bot best. Seeing an object emerge from a piece of wood is just great fun for me.

    Bruce,

    One of the nice things for us is that because of the puzzle line we have the business, license, insurance, etc. all in place. There is a possibility of cold calling and selling the puzzles wholesale again, but we have avoided that since loosing our last catalog account. The reason is that I can make as much on 20 retail puzzle sales as I did on a 100 piece wholesale order, and the wholesalers were looking for additional discounts. The puzzles are very time consuming, so wholesale is a lot of time for very little profit.

    Steve,

    I know what you mean about the cabin signs. I see what Eric does and it has crossed my mind. I did make a sign last Christmas for my Mom and it turned out pretty good. I do have a question about copying others work though, and I think I will address that in a separate post.

    Thanks for the suggestions, looking forward to hearing thoughts from others.
    Miles Thormodson
    Custom Digifab
    "The Home of Stump's Puzzles"
    www.stumps-puzzles.com
    www.customdigifab.com
    www.routertemplate.net

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Garland Tx
    Posts
    2,241

    Default

    Miles

    Other thoughts I had last night...

    If you have a RV service center or a way to advertise to RV owners, they like to have signs that they post at their camp sites... My experience is that after spending a few hundred grand on a home on wheels they don't balk at $50.00 or more for a cutesy sign to hang out front.

    Possibly you could make a deal with the local real estate people to make signs for new cabin sales... a feel good add on

    Steve

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Hobby-Tronics, Chiloquin Oregon
    Posts
    1,261

    Default

    If you have been running your bot for any period of time you have a portfolio of 'samples'. Gather them up and cruise around and show some of them to potential customers and see what sparks some interest. As far as cabin signs are concerned I do quite a few nowadays and haven't needed to copy anyones work. Most of the time they are simply the name of the owner or they will tell you make Casa Something or whatever. I don't do good enough work to do someones kitchen or den but I have done a ton of garage cabinets! Russ

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Cabinets Plus of Augusta, Hephzibah Ga 30815
    Posts
    1,504

    Default

    I had a guy tell me that if you find a problem that others have and solve it you can make money with that.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    LumberJack Toys, LLC, Richmond MN
    Posts
    74

    Default

    Good advice about the RV signs Steve, I remember thinking the same thing last time I was camping, but since I was on vacation the idea left as quick as it arrived. In addition to the dealers we could hit the local campgrounds as well. Most of them have people who rent the site for the entire season. If a guy did it right he could go camping, sell a few signs and write the whole thing off as a business expense. In addition, there are 10,000 lakes in the state. That means we only have to sell to one person on each lake and we will be busy for a long time.

    You're right about solving problems Gene. I have also heard that "You don't need a new idea, just take an existing product and make it 10% better". That's true. Apple didn't invent the MP3 player, they just made it better. People loved the idea of an MP3 player, they were just not user friendly. Apple solved the interface problem, called it an IPOD, and the rest is history. AND they got to charge a premium price to boot!
    Miles Thormodson
    Custom Digifab
    "The Home of Stump's Puzzles"
    www.stumps-puzzles.com
    www.customdigifab.com
    www.routertemplate.net

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    7,830

    Default

    You need to check to see if you have any local "home shows" in your area. This is the time of year they usually have them. What I have done is gotten together a "portfolio" of pictures in a binder along with some business cards and i went to the home shows and talked to the exhibitors about what i could do for them, giving them the idea that they could offer say "custom cabinet doors" or other things that they normally couldn't do, or sign company's that were there you could do their carving for them.

    I do the carving for our local Hightech Signs Co and another smaller one, and do custom carving for a local builder. I went to one show and walked out with 3 contacts and jobs.
    I don't do a ton of work, but i don't want to do a ton of work either.

    Another idea is to contact these builders who advertise in Craigslist and Handymen and offer your services. If they can offer your products to their customers and all you have to do is carve the stock they bring you, it's easy work.

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